Verdi: Inno delle nazioni

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LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Inno delle nazioni; Libera me, Domine (from Messa per Rossini); Quattro pezzi sacri; La vergine degli angeli
PERFORMER: Barbara Frittoli (soprano), Francesco Meli (tenor); Orchestra & Chorus of Teatro Regio, Turin/Gianandrea Noseda

A mixed Verdi collection, including a couple of unusual items. The Hymn of the Nations was the Italian musical contribution to the London International Exhibition of 1862, though it didn’t ultimately appear in its destined context. Verdi produced something that sounds like an off-cut from the Triumph Scene of Aida, managing to incorporate the national anthems of England, France and Italy – at one point simultaneously. Under Gianandrea Noseda’s alert baton, it registers well here, though lyric tenor Francesco Meli sounds a size too small for a part surely conceived for a more stentorian tone.
Verdi originally designed his ‘Libera me’ for a projected Requiem Mass in memory of Rossini, who died in 1868, to be written by 13 prominent Italian composers. Though the work was completed, it was not performed. Verdi went on to revise his single movement as part of his own Requiem Mass (1874). It’s certainly interesting to hear his original, which uses much of the familiar material in a different way. Spirited as Barbara Frittoli is as the soprano soloist, once again a more substantial voice is implied, though she sounds more secure in ‘La vergine degli angeli’ from La forza del destino, and provides an ethereal close to the Te Deum, last of the Four Sacred Pieces – visionary, distilled examples of Verdi’s late style whose mystery Noseda presents with considerable sensitivity. George Hall